Rowan v. United States Post Office Department

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Rowan v. United States Post Office Department
by the Supreme Court of the United States

Rowan v. Post Office Dept., 397 U.S. 728 (1970), is a case in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that an addressee of postal mail has unreviewable discretion to decide whether he wishes to receive further material from a particular sender, that the sender does not have a constitutional right to send unwanted material into someone’s home. It thus created a quasi-exception to free speech in cases where a person is held as a 'captive audience'. While the statute only explicitly applies to “a pandering advertisement which offers for sale matter which the addressee in his sole discretion believes to be erotically arousing or sexually provocative”, a lower court had found that § 4009 was constitutional when interpreted to prohibit advertisements similar to those initially mailed to the addressee, and this decision upholds that interpretation. Excerpted from Rowan v. U.S. Post Office Dept. on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

397 U.S. 728

Rowan  v.  United States Post Office Department

 Argued: Jan. 22, 1970. --- Decided: May 4, 1970

Joseph Taback, Beverly Hills, Cal., for appellants.

William D. Ruckelshaus, Washington, D.C., for appellees.

Mr. Chief Justice BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).